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Young women on the move: Britain c1880-1950

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Forthcoming
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/06/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Social Science History
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

Travel is an essential part of everyday life for most people, and it inevitably brings inconvenience at times, but women have often experienced particular and distinctive constraints and harassments while travelling which may inhibit or reduce their mobility. However, we know relatively little in detail about how, why and how much women travelled in the past. This paper provides new evidence about female mobility in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain by analyzing the daily movements that were recorded in the personal diaries of nine young women. The diary entries show that all the women travelled frequently both alone and with others, that they used a variety of transport technologies that were available at the time, and that they rarely recorded incidents that caused them concern or alarm. Mobility was not only essential for carrying out everyday activities, but it was also central to the development of friendships and, especially, courting. Both social class and location did have some influence on the ways in which the young women travelled, on their freedom to travel alone, and on the inconveniences they faced. However, overall, the similarities between the experiences of the nine diarists were much greater than the differences. Although it is not possible to generalize widely from just nine accounts, these diaries do provide new insights to female mobility in the past.